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Chico State

Words from Experienced Wildcats

The front of Kendall Hall
Jason Halley/University Photogra

The front of Kendall Hall is seen Friday, August 22, 2014 in Chico, Calif. (Jason Halley/University Photographer)

By Kacey Gardner, editorial assistant

Whether you’re a first-time freshman, transfer student, or one of our returning Wildcats, the start of a new school year is a great time to establish habits for success and think about your long-term goals. We asked a few professors from across campus their advice for making the most of your time here, this semester and beyond. Read what they had to say below, and if you have tips of your own, feel free to share in a comment.


  • Aaron Quinn, Department of Journalism and Public Relations
  • Bill McGowan, Department of Finance and Marketing
  • Asa Mittman, Department of Art and Art History
  • Mary-Elizabeth Matthews, Department of Mathematics

What do you wish someone would have told you when you were in college?

adviceQ1Quinn: How great being responsible for myself would be.

McGowan: Get to know your professors right away by visiting during office hours. They can be so helpful during your college years. … This can lead to a letter of recommendation if you’ve proven yourself.

Mittman: I actually did get the advice I needed: My father said to ask around, find who the best professors were, and to take whatever it was they taught. He advised me not to worry too much about the subject matter, since a great professor will make any subject exciting, and a dull one can deaden even the most engaging topic.

Matthews: It’s OK to seek help. Honestly, there are many resources. If you’re struggling and seek help, your professors pay attention to that! It will both help you in your classes and show your instructor how much you are willing to work.

What is your best advice for students to start off the semester on the right foot?

adviceQ2Quinn: Show up. Be in class. Be willing to listen and to speak up. Engage with your peers and your professors. The more active you are, the more enjoyable classes will be for you.

McGowan: Don’t procrastinate. … Right from the beginning be proactive, not reactive. Once you develop bad habits, it’s hard to change.

Mittman: Meet your professors!

Matthews: Try to go to a few cultural events and club meetings before the semester gets too intense. The connections you make will help you when you need academic and emotional support later!

How can students make the most of their time at Chico State?

adviceQ3Quinn: Be active in more than just studies. There are incredible resources for recreation and other extracurriculars that can give you perspectives and experiences that studying will not.

McGowan: Students should set goals and timelines to reach those goals. After all, “What gets measured gets done.”

Mittman: First, study something you love. Then, read every article, every chapter, every page; think deeply about every assignment; talk to your professors in office hours; talk in class; do research, not just because you have to but because that is where most of the best learning occurs; get straight As, not just in your major, but in everything; apply for travel grants; go abroad!; join a club, or found one; organize a field trip and a film night related to your major; enter a competition; publish an essay; go to a conference; in short, do it all!

Matthews: Get involved! Chico is big enough to have a ton of opportunities but small enough to have a deep sense of community. College is just as much about what you learn outside of the classroom as what you learn in it.

What do you think students who don’t have any idea what career they want should do to figure it out?

Saturday, May 17, 2014 in Chico, Calif. (Jason Halley/University Photographer)Quinn: Find something you think you’ll love, but also take into account what sort of lifestyle you want. You’ll almost invariably spend an enormous amount of time working, so you should be reasonably certain you’ll enjoy that type of work.

McGowan: Go to all the career fairs even when you are a freshman, as it will put you on the right path for the future.

Mittman: I don’t think that college should be primarily about career training.  I believe it should be about opening minds, expanding horizons, causing students to rethink their fundamental assumptions, develop new passions, and learn, learn, learn.

Matthews: Take “liberal arts” seriously. Maybe you never dreamed that Art in England in the 1800s would be interesting, but the right instructor can pass their passion onto you. I’ve seen many students make complete changes in their career fields because they discovered an interest in something unexpected by taking a class by chance.